Legal help for OFWs in death row urged. Photo courtesy of bulatlat.com

MANILA–Migrants rights group Migrante today renewed their call for the Aquino government to send “high-level team” abroad to save OFWs particularly those in death rows like in the case of Joselito Zapanta.

In reference to their consolidated report from the Department of Foreign Affairs’s Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA), the group said there are 2,001 OFWs in detentions or facing charges in various courts in Middle East from July to December 2011.

“ Paisa-isa naming kinalap ang information from the DFA, during case dialogues with the Office of the Undersecretary for Migrant Workers Affairs (OUMWA). Then, gumawa ng summary ang Migrante International-Philippine office staff namin. There could be more on the list na hindi namin naisama sa documentation,” John Leonard Monterona, regional coordinator in the Middle East, told Manila Channel.

The report added there were 14 Philippine posts out of 18 in the Middle East which handled 2,001 cases–with Tel Aviv ranks first with 522 cases; second Riyadh with 481 cases; third, Kuwait with 276 cases; fourth, Jeddah with 192 cases; and fifth, Dubai with 148 cases.

While no. 6th is Beirut, 98 cases; 7th is Abu Dhabi, 97 cases; 8th is Doha, 67 cases; 9th is Damascus, 38 cases; 10th is Manama, 35 cases; 11th is Amman, 27 cases; 12th is Muscat, 21 cases; 13th is Cairo, 8 cases; and 14th is Tripoli, 1 case.

The Philippine posts that got zero cases include Abuja, Baghdad, Nairobi, and Pretoria.

On the nature of the cases, convicted and serving sentence is 292 (14.59 percent); awaiting trail is 435 (21.74 percent); on trial is 216 (10.79 percent); for deportation is 851 (42.53 percent); case under investigation is 140 (7.00 percent) and deported is 67 (3.35 percent).

“We have been repeatedly suggesting to the Philippine government that a high-level team of diplomats will be sent to Saudi Arabia to once and for all look into the individual cases and status of OFWs on death row including of OFW Zapanta, so that they can come up legal actions and strategies to concretize it’s efforts saving the lives of OFWs on death row,” Monterona added.

OFWs in death row in Saudi Arabia include Edizon Gonzales, Rolando Gonzales, Eduardo Arcilla, Rogelio ‘Dondon’ Lanuza, and Joselito Zapanta, according to a report from Migrante.